Category Archives: Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff

Back to 3QuarksDaily

After a bit of a break, I’m going to resume contributing monthly essays at 3QuarksDaily. The first essay is now up, alongside the fascinating essays, poems, and insights from the other contributors. How To Be Kind “There’s only one rule … Continue reading

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Minds as predictive engines

(Reading Andy Clark, Surfing Uncertainty (Oxford UP 2015)) I’m no longer sure I know what an “ordinary” theory of mind would look like, but I’m guessing that it would resemble an organized camp of explorers. The explorers, or our senses, venture … Continue reading

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On the Other Delphic Maxims

Now up at Aeon. The conclusion: The fact that the great majority of maxims on the list can still serve us today is itself worth further reflection. There is no denying that our lives have changed a lot in the … Continue reading

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Wisdom from Whitman, Camus, and Mae West

I am a body. I have been “designed”, through mishap and random success in an ever- changing environment, for millions of years. The result is astonishing: a pumping heart, breathing lungs, and a bewildering array of chemical processes that allow … Continue reading

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The Challenge of Being Vertical

Sloterdijk, Peter. You Must Change Your Life, translated by Wieland Hoban (Polity, 2013) We construct for ourselves ideals that taunt us, pull us upwards, and change our lives. This is fixed; but the the nature of those ideals, as well … Continue reading

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The Hope of Concepts (or, some sorely needed arch support)

(Loosely reflecting while re-reading Peter Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life…) As in Spheres, PS’s aim is to create (or at least open up a space for) a new life-support system for humans, a post-religious quasi-religion grounded in practice and … Continue reading

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Philosophy as an art of concepts

Around the beginning of the 20th century, the intellectual landscape changed radically and forever. The old view, let’s say, presumed the intelligibility of a God’s eye perspective: a vision of Things as They Are, or Things as They Really Are … Continue reading

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Philosophy as enchantment?

[What follows is a version of an address recently given at the Mountain-Plains Philosophy Conference, where a good time was had by all.] In a lecture at the University of Munich in 1919 – the year before he died – … Continue reading

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Truth: an initial stab at the thing

On campus we are having a series of discussions under the title of “facticity.” No, it’s not a headlong plunge into German idealism and the impossible task of capturing the brute “thatness” of what experience coughs up. Instead, it is … Continue reading

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The Age of Moonshot Ideals?

It is hopeless to try to guess at how the future will judge us. We are in the thick of things, and we don’t know what will emerge as important or significant over time. Events that seem to us exciting … Continue reading

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Sloterdijk’s Spheres

I finished reading volume 3 of Sloterdijk’s Spheres trilogy, and then went back and read the whole series again. It has been a delightful struggle to think through the rich banquet of ideas and images he offers. I have written up … Continue reading

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Knowledge, that human practice

Ordinarily, we think knowledge is having in one’s head some kind of story or an explanation that matches how Things Really Are. This ordinary conception has at least two problems. First, it assumes that there is a way Things Really … Continue reading

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Living in the light of necessity

[excerpt from To View from Eternity] The neoplatonists urge us to see our troubled lives from the view of eternity. The world issues from the metaphysical character of the One, which means that the order of the planets and the balance … Continue reading

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Needed: a handbook for e-life

There probably is room in today’s ideosphere for a handbook for living a balanced life in our ephemeral e-world. If course, for a great many humans (the majority? I think so, but I’m not sure) there really is no e-world, … Continue reading

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Victorian anthropology

[Reading George W. Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (Free Press, 1987)] Stocking’s book is most centrally about how 19th-century upper-class British males managed to combine their sense of superiority with an emerging awareness of Darwinian evolution. Many loose threads needed to be woven … Continue reading

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